I finished the Ghosts topic with my online ethics classes today. It was a very interesting and fun topic to discuss with the kids. When asked if people’s spirits should go on to the afterlife or whatever happens after we die as is natural, or if it’s okay for a spirit to hang around on Earth as a ghost, about half thought being a ghost was okay, while half thought it was unnatural and people should just do the normal, expected thing when they die. But when I turned the question around and asked what they would prefer to do if they died, nearly all of them said they’d like to stay on Earth as a ghost.
A surprising question to me was when I asked them the following scenario: You’re a police detective investigating a murder, but you have no clues or evidence or suspects. It looks like you’re not going to find the killer. But then the victim’s ghost appears to you one night in your home, and tells you they saw the person who murdered them. They tell you the name of the murderer. What do you do with this information?
A few kids said they’d arrest the named person, a few said they’d start looking for evidence, maybe search that person’s home. But what surprised me was that most of the kids said the ghost’s testimony was essentially worthless, because they could be lying.
A divisive question was about people who claim to be clairvoyants, and “pass messages” from dead loved ones to people – people who pay the clairvoyant money to contact them. If the client believes that the clairvoyant is contacting their dead loved ones, and so gains comfort from this, is it ethical for the clairvoyant to pretend to be able to do this? And charge money for it?
Most of the kids had a tough time thinking about this one. Most eventually concluded that helping the client was a good thing, even if it was done through deception. But if the clairvoyant charged money for this, then they were taking advantage. Essentially it was okay to do it for free, but not to charge money for it. Although a good fraction of the kids thought it was outright bad to lie to people about this, even if it made them feel better.
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